Tag Archives: Spider-Man 2

Even More Damn Games

Christmas cash is practically a license to buy all the frivolous stuff that I couldn’t justify earlier in the year. Laura and I took another trip to Blockbuster last night after dinner. Though Laura couldn’t find a movie to rent, I made out like a bandit in the used video game section. As the kids might say, “25% off for the win!”

Darkwatch

A first-person shooter that takes place in the Old West, or what some call “The Weird West.” Outlaw Jericho Cross, seeking a quick payoff, robs the wrong train. In doing so, he releases an ancient vampire named Lazarus. ((That’s right, the “hero” is a man whose initials are “J.C.” and he resurrects a vampire named Lazarus.)) Rather than kill Jericho, Lazarus embraces ((Dear White Wolf: Please don’t sue me for using the term “embrace” to describe one vampire creating another. Hugs and kisses, Kris.)) him, and the outlaw begins his transformation into a blood-sucking, undead horror. Jericho flees Lazarus, hoping to join up with a group called the Darkwatch, who… well, I don’t know what they do yet. I haven’t gotten that far. I played for just shy of an hour last night and I’m enjoying the game so far. It’s a cross between Red Dead Revolver ā€” probably my favorite Xbox FPS ā€” and Van Helsing. Jericho has access to a variety of ranged weapons (including a pistol called “The Redeemer”), most of which have some manner of blade built into the butt or stock, allowing Jericho to use them as brutal melee weapons when the shambling, undead wretches get too close for comfort. As a secondary ranged attack, Jericho can throw stuff. So far, I’ve found only one throwable weapon: dynamite. Pretty effective, though. As the game progresses, Jericho will gain more vampiric powers. Right now, he’s got some nifty “blood vision” and a “vampire jump.” He’ll also gain special abilities depending upon whether he performs “good” or “evil” actions at certain points in the game. I’ve been playing him as a goody-two-shoes outlaw up to this point, so he’s got silver bullets that do additional damage againt the aforementioned undead wretches.

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

Now my Splinter Cell collection is complete. ((Well, except for the new paperback novel I saw on the shelf at the bookstore a couple of weeks ago.)) Sam Fisher is my hero, and Michael Ironside ((Okay, totally off-topic here. Am I the only person on the planet who wants to see Michael Ironside and Kurtwood Smith throw down?)) is the perfect guy to give him a voice. If they ever do a Splinter Cell movie (oh, you know they will), they’ll have to get Ironside to dub all of Ben Affleck’s lines. ((Dear Hollywood: That was a joke. Please don’t cast Ben Affleck as Sam Fisher in the Splinter Cell movie. Thank you. BFF, Kris.)) Given that I’ve yet to complete the second Splinter Cell game, Pandora Tomorrow, there was some internal debate as to whether or not I should pick up Chaos Theory. I was toying with the idea of getting Jade Empire instead, but I thought that might make Sam mad. I imagined hearing a gravelly voice say, “There’s a man in my way, Lambert,” then barely being aware of my head being turned around 180 degrees before all turned to darkness. ((I didn’t wet my pants a little bit while thinking about that. Not right there at the used video game table of the local Blockbuster. No, sir. Not me.)) Plus, Chaos Theory has a cooperative multiplayer mode, which is good news for Miscellaneous Gā„¢ and me.

Spider-Man 2

Someone decided to take the open-ended, free form style of the Grand Theft Auto series and apply it to the Spider-Man franchise. ((The same has been done with everybody’s favorite yellow family in The Simpsons Hit & Run, which is tons of fun.)) Good idea. I liked the first Spider-Man: The Movie: The Game well enough, but some of the restrictions on the gameplay were just plain silly. For instance, Spider-Man could not descend below a certain level while web-swinging through the city or he would… die. Just up and croak. Silly, I tell you. In the second installment, Spidey is free to go pretty much where ever he wants. He swings between and around buildings, runs along the sidewalk, hops a ride on a passing car and goes for a refreshing swim in the harbor. There’s a storyline to follow, but if you’d rather just patrol the streets saving people from thugs, foiling bank robberies, chasing getaway cars and the like, there is no shortage of randomly-generated mini-missions available. I rented Spider-Man 2 earlier this year, and had a blast with it, so this was a good find. Next up on my Spidey game wish list: Ultimate Spider-Man.

Lazy Thursday

I woke up yesterday morning feeling completely rundown and crappy, so I allowed myself the luxury of calling in sick. I didn’t leave the house all day (which, unfortunately, included skipping the April Cleveland-area NaNoWriMo group meeting). Here’s what I did do:

  • Played Pool of Radiance. Old school. The original Pool of Radiance was released by SSI in 1988 and I had it for my Apple IIGS. I played for hours upon hours, mapping each area I visited on graph paper and then reproducing those maps in the art program, printing them (in glorious dot matrix color) and mounting them on poster board. Most of the time I was playing I was also listening to Rush’s A Farewell to Kings over and over and over again. I recently found a copy of the DOS version of Pool of Radiance and (with the help of DOSBox) began my quest to finish the game once and for all. Did I mention that I never finished the Apple version? Come on, this is me. Of course I never finished it. So I fired up Chronicles on iTunes and played a game that transported me in time and place. My party consists of Brak, bold human fighter; Boddy, daring and clever halfling fighter/thief; Isabeau, pious human cleric; Jaegen, devious dwarven thief; Sara, wise half-even cleric/magic-user; and Drea, mysterious elven magic-user. Together, they have kicked acres, nay, hectares of 16-color ass.
  • Watched a bit of an anti-smoking show on HBO Family. Why? I don’t even know. I was just flipping through the channels and it caught my eye. The show, aimed at teens and pre-teens, featured some rather shocking statistics and interviews with some shockingly ignorant and naive teen smokers.
  • Watched Warlock: The Armageddon. Why? Well, the TiVo recorded it and I was feeling far too lousy to find something better to do. Plus, I like cheese. Julian Sands is the title character, and he spends a lot of time killing fashion designers, prostitutes, old men, cabbies and fuzzy bunnies with gore-rific effects, only to be defeated by… headlights.
  • Watched some of the extras on the second Spider-Man 2 DVD. Interesting stuff. I like extras. There’s a mini-documentary that follows Doctor Octopus from his origin in the comics about forty years ago to his most recent incarnation in the movie. I only wish they’d showed a little more about the design and implementation of the tentacles. Perhaps that’s elsewhere on the disc.

Movie Review: Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Spider-Man 2 (DVD)Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Starring Toby Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons, Donna Murphy, Daniel Gillies, Dylan Baker, Bill Nunn, Cliff Robertson, Willem Defoe and Satipo.

Directed by Sam Raimi.

I think Spider-Man 2 is a flawed gem where superhero movies are concerned. In terms of action, I think it far surpasses its predecessor. It also does a very good job of moving the story along and developing the characters. Alfred Molina’s Otto Octavius is far more interesting and sympathetic than his comic counterpart has ever been. Spider-Man 2 is, I think, about as faithful an on-screen representation of a comic book superhero as has been seen to date. At times, though, it seems that Raimi and company have performed the task of translating the ink-and-paper characters to the screen too well.

Spider-Man has always been about a guy who is, deep down, very unsure of himself. He has been given incredible powers but he is constantly aware that they are both a gift and a burden. Peter Parker lives in fear that his enemies will discover the true nature of his connection to Spider-Man and use his loved ones as leverage in their evil schemes. Never mind the Green Goblin, Kraven the Hunter, Doctor Octopus or the Lizard, Spider-Man is his own toughest foe. Add to this the fact that he is beloved by some and reviled by others (including Peter Parker’s best friend, Harry Osborn), and Spider-Man is about ready for weekly sessions with a psychoanalyst.

The problem with Spider-Man 2 comes when all of this angst and turmoil gets thrown up onto the big screen. Peter Parker is suffering the downfall of maintaining a dual identity and everyone around him is aware of the results: he can’t keep a job, his grades are slipping, he’s always late, always tired. When not swinging through the streets, saving innocent children from evil traffic and generally struggling to make New York a better place for everyone, the man behind the mask is forced to endure a seemingly endless parade of concerned friends and family offering their analysis and advice. It is the over-long, overwrought speeches that make the action-free scenes of Spider-Man 2 difficult to watch. Peter is preached to by everyone from his personal physician to Doctor Octavius, from Mary Jane to (worst of all) Aunt May. The first movie had its overly-earnest bits of dialog, but the sequel really turns up the volume.

This type of stuff works all right in three panels of the comic book, but it’s just too much for the screen. That’s not to suggest that Peter’s problems be “dumbed-down” for moviegoers, just the opposite. Stop beating us over the head with it, or at the very least use a softer hammer.

Spider-Man 2 is, as I said before, a flawed gem. The action scenes are consistently brilliant, imaginative, well-executed and fun to watch. J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson made me laugh out loud every time he was on screen, as well he should have, and there were some absurdly comedic moments scattered throughout. Some of these worked (the elevator scene) and one would have worked better if it had been a bit shorter (Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head). In the course of the movie I saw the potential for at least two villains with which Sony and Sam Raimi could assault the web-slinger in future installments. I found the movie to be largely satisfying. If the speeches had been toned down a bit, the flaw in Spider-Man 2 might not have been so noticeable.